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The Three and Sixpenny Doctor


Chemists

'Syrup of Squills and Glycerine, Ipecacuanha Wine.'

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‘If you had a chemist in the block where you stayed that was very handy, he was often very good at giving you advice without going to the expense of getting the doctor.’

Astley Ainslie Hospital, memory of the 1930s


‘You’d go to a chemist and then if you wernae cured, at the last minute you’d go to a doctor.’

Joyce Myles, born 1930s


Advert courtesy of Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacies

‘One of my kids had a cough, and it was irritating her terribly, and this old lady said, - You’ll have to go to the chemist and ask him to make up a bottle with, syrup of squills and glycerine, ipecacuanha wine.  So I went away and there was an old-fashioned chemist, and it was the only one I could get that would make that up for me. And it was marvellous.’

Helen Mustard, born 1926


‘But just colds and shivers and things like that, the chemist will give you something. He was your doctor, unless you had a broken arm or something, in which case you'd go to the real doctor or the hospital.’

Hugh Sibbald, born 1923


‘You used to always go to Mr Black, the chemist in Gorgie Road, if anything was wrong with you. He’d give you a cough bottle or a cream or whatever you needed. All the folk around Gorgie went to Mr Black instead of the doctor. He didn’t charge for seeing you, but you would buy the medicine from him, so I suppose he got paid in a way too.’

Mary Dunn, born 1924

Photo by Rory Vereker, Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacies


Home Remedies

'Gentian Violet and Pink Emulsion.'

‘My mother would make a porridge poultice and put it in a stocking round my neck 'cause I was terrible bothered with sore throats, until I got my tonsils out.’

Marianne Hendry, born 1940s


‘They were great ones for rubbin' liniment on you, if you had aches and pains.’

George Hackland, born 1920


‘Ring worm went round the classrooms and you had to put on Gentian Violet.’

Cramond Lunch Club, memory of the 1930s



‘I remember getting scabies. It came in between your fingers and it itched like fury. I was put in a bath as hot as I could stand it and my mum insisted on me getting in. I said, - It's too hot. And she made me get in and I fainted! The hot bath was to open all your pores then she’d put a sulphur ointment on, all over you.’

Cramond Lunch Club, memory of the 1930s


‘I remember for rheumatism, you’d keep an onion in your back pocket.’

Marianne Hendry, born 1940s


‘During the war you got cod liver oil and concentrated orange juice. I didn’t like the cod liver oil but I enjoyed the orange juice. Rosehip syrup was all right. I remember getting stuff called emulsion and it was sort of pink. And they had malt. I liked that. There was other stuff called chemical food which you had to take through a straw ’cause it rotted your teeth, but It was supposed to be good for you.’
Audrey Soutar, born 1934


‘My mother, we called her Lady Iodine, you got iodine plunked on every cut and it nipped like fury!’
Cramond Lunch Club

Bottle label (Image, City of Edinburgh Museums and Galleries Collection)

Newspaper advert 1930s